Dating a Man with Low Self-Esteem

The number of men suffering from self-esteem issues might surprise you. This is due, in part, to the male tendency to mask “signs of weakness” for fear of looking less masculine and because men with low self-esteem tend to behave differently from their female counterparts. It’s true that women more frequently suffer from self-esteem issues than men and that self-esteem increases with age after adolescence but childhood trauma and abuse, school-age bullying, social media-driven body image issues and, even the current pandemic have led to more and more men reporting issues with confidence and self-esteem. In one recent study, 58% of the men polled showed signs of low self-esteem.

Dating a man with low self-esteem is a journey through very rough terrain. As one relationship specialist described it; “A man can’t love you more than he hates himself,” and, as much as we’d like to fix him, we can’t. Only he can take the steps necessary to improve his self-image. For some men, the first step; admitting the problem, is something they just aren’t comfortable doing.

What are the signs of low self-esteem in men?

A man with low self-esteem may appear to have an inflated ego. He describes himself as superior to others and needs to be the alpha male. He boasts about his every achievement and frequently describes himself as unique, special, and possessing talents that other men just don’t have. This posturing is a form of self-protection.

Men with self-esteem issues often develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, (OCD) because they suffer from anxiety and distress. He will engage in compulsive and repetitive behavior.

He likely suffers from psychological escapism. When things get uncomfortable, he disconnects from them mentally. This trait combined with his tendency toward OCD often leads to addiction.

Dating him may feel like dating a child. He wants to be pampered, fed and provided with all of your attention when you’re together and may throw a tantrum if he isn’t the center of your universe.

He likes to play the victim card. When things go wrong in his life he turns to self-pity saying things like, “Why does this always happen to me?”, “Why am I so unlucky,” etc…

He is likely to have difficulty committing to a relationship. His need for external validation is too great for one person to fill. He may also feel unworthy of your love and avoid committing for fear of being hurt.

Though he will expect to have your complete attention and act jealous and insecure about your relationships with others, he will likely have a wandering eye and will flirt with other women. He has a need to seek attention from other women as a means of validation and the more, the better because external validation is a weak substitute for self-love and can only temporarily fill the void.

If you’re dating a man with low self-esteem, it’s important to understand that you can’t fix him. You can offer realistic compliments and reassure him but you won’t convince him that he’s good enough. He will need to come to terms with his problem and work through the root cause. This generally requires some form of professional counseling.

Happiness is Brought to a Relationship, Not Found There

Finding and keeping a healthy, committed relationship seems to be harder than ever these days. The internet, a rise in mental health concerns, and dynamic societal gender roles make remaining in a relationship a real challenge and tend to cause women to behave in ways that are more likely to drive a man away than bring him closer. We can make them feel demasculinized, unloved, untrusted, or smothered and in most cases, we’re oblivious to the things we do and how they make men feel.

The first, and most important thing, to realize is that men and women are not the same. Sure, not all men are the same either, but there are fundamental evolutionary aspects to manhood that, on some level, all men share. When we interact with our partners we tend to expect them to function the same way that we act, think and respond rather than how a man would think, act, and respond. This is why we feel so lost when a man starts pulling away. We feel like victims because we can’t fathom what we may have done to cause his distance and make assumptions rather than taking stock. We believe he’s cheating or that we’ve been played.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. let’s look at a few fatal relationships mistakes that women make.

The Chase

Let’s face it, women like to be pursued and men don’t. Sure, his ego might get a good stroking but to a man being chased is usually a turn off. Men are fairly simple when it comes to courting. If he’s interested in you, he will make it known and will appreciate having to chase you a bit. Why? Because it makes him feel charismatic and manly to chase a woman and win her over but the woman he wants to win is the one who seems like an actual prize to him. Women who chase men often appear desperate and void of self worth to the opposite sex and who wants to win someone like that?

So how do you assure him that you’re interested without appearing desperate? Stop initiating contact. Let him text first and call first the majority of the time. Miss a phone call or two and wait a while before calling back. You’re not supposed to be sitting by the phone waiting for him to call. Live your life and let him know that your world doesn’t revolve around him.

If you’re already in a relationship stop asking for every detail of his day. Don’t show up at his job to surprise him with a lunch date. Don’t feel the need to break in to his guy time with text messages, Communicate with him and find out exactly what he expects as far as contact goes and don’t cross the line in to crazy girlfriend territory.

Being Consumed with Your Own Agenda

There is something disingenuous about trying to plan the future of a relationship when one only considers their own desires and needs. It’s a me centered mindset.  You get so fixated on achieving some sort of relationship goal (like being official), and on figuring out how he feels. When you do this, you aren’t connecting with him as a person, you are using him as a means to feel good about yourself and worthy of love and that is not the pathway towards a meaningful connection.

When you cook for him, clean his apartment, or offer him praise, are you doing it naturally or are you doing it to convince him that you’re worthy of his commitment? If it isn’t genuine, it won’t penetrate his heart. You’re far better off bonding naturally and making him feel like he can share parts of himself with you that he hides from the rest of the world. He needs to feel valued, not mothered.

Without manipulation, a relationship follows a natural course. If it’s taking too long for you, it may not be right for you and you should be the one moving on.

Feeling Entitled

Nothing turns a man off faster than unreasonable expectations from a woman. When he does things for you he wants to feel appreciated. Stepping outside of yourself and looking at him and appreciating him for the person he is, not just for the way he makes you feel and what he does for you, is other-focused and that is how a real connection forms.

Being too Needy and Stressing too Much over the Relationship

I once had a man tell me that even if he was the perfect man for me, I would still find something wrong with the relationship. He was right. I was insecure and needy and stressed too much over his behavior. I was always looking for a hidden meaning or agenda. I wasn’t ready for a commitment. I needed to work on myself, first.

Neediness usually comes from an emptiness within that we believe somebody else can fill for us. We may come to believe that some other person can give us something emotionally that we can’t give ourselves: a feeling of being OK, of being worthy of love, of feeling good about ourselves. The problem is someone else can’t give us those things; they come from within.

Neediness leads to a constant need for validation and reassurance. It causes jealously. We panic when he doesn’t call or text. We obsess over him and fear that he’ll leave us. We make him the center of our universe and neglect our own well-being as well as other people in our lives while we stress over the state of our relationship. This behavior is unhealthy for us and a deal breaker for most men. If you find yourself feeling this way. step back and take the time to understand why you behave this way.

Committing too Soon

You meet a guy who is heads and shoulders above all of the other men that you have to chose from. What do you do? You cut the others off and focus exclusively on him even though he hasn’t shown a desire to do the same with you. He tells you he likes things the way they are and you’re hurt by this, but you stay the course anyway hoping he’ll change his mind. He probably won’t.

You need to free yourself up to explore other options. It’s not that guys are anti-monogamy, or don’t want to commit, it just isn’t a man’s natural inclination to want to be tied down. A man will only commit himself to a woman if he is inspired to and if it has a benefit to him. If he is getting all the benefits of having a girlfriend without the obligations that come with being in a relationship, then why in the world would he change that situation?

If a man knows he is with an incredible woman and senses she will leave if he doesn’t commit in the way she wants, then he’ll commit. If a man is with an amazing woman but is kind of on the fence about her and senses she’ll leave if he doesn’t commit, then he’ll let her go. But if this same woman sticks around even though he won’t commit, then he might keep her around indefinitely and that is where the real trouble lies.

Pathological Fear of Commitment

You met someone and things are going great. You laugh together. You have a lot in common and of course the sex is fantastic. As things progress. you spend more and more time together and may even start to use those three little words. You’re in love and surely ready to move this situation into relationship territory, right? Well, you might be but the mere mention of making a commitment causes your partner to shut down. Maybe they hit you with every reason in the book why you should stay how you are; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe they just stop calling or become distant, or maybe, they sabotage the whole thing and you leave them. You ask yourself how you could have been so easily played by someone who didn’t care as much as they led you to believe but you may not have been played at all. Your partner truly love you but may also be suffering from a pathological fear of commitment.

Gamophobia is the fear of commitment and can also be defined as an irrational fear of marriage. Although not a diagnosable mental illness, the psychiatric community agrees that it is very real. Fear of commitment or long-term relationship anxiety could be linked to early experiences or even trauma. Someone may fear commitment because they’re afraid of being abandoned, hurt, or betrayed, for example.

An article in Psyche Central states:

It’s possible for someone to experience gamophobia only. They might feel comfortable committing to their job, other relationships, and events that require long-term responsibility.

If your partner has a fear of commitment or commitment phobia, that doesn’t necessarily mean they:

  • don’t love you
  • don’t value you
  • are rejecting you
  • don’t want to spend time with you
  • are cheating on you
  • are playing with you

It may be difficult for someone to deal with the commitment itself but not the feelings. They may be in love, want to spend time with you, and even desire to get closer. Yet, they might have a hard time dealing with the dedication and engagement this may require.

If they live with a phobia, the irrational fear this involves may trump their feelings.

So, how do you know if your partner is playing you or if they truly fear commitment? What are the signs of commitment phobia?

Sadly, those who fear commitment demonstrate the same behaviors as those who consider themselves “players”.

They don’t make long term plans and if they do, they don’t include you in them.

They don’t readily open up about their feelings or have deep conversations.

They may avoid contact with you, particularly is you’ve mentioned making plans or moving your relationship to the next level.

The best way to approach a partner with fear of commitment is through open communication. You can’t threaten or trick them in to committing to you. These tactics will only drive them further away. Be real with them. Tell them that you understand that they are confused about taking the next step and assure them that you know that they love you. Agree to move slowly as long as they agree to work on the problem.

Some suggestions include:

Individual or Couples Therapy

Practice Commitment – Leave items in their household and have them leave some in yours. Hold hands in public. Go out as a couple with other couples. Take weekend trips or a vacation and plan future trips together.

Be empathetic. Most of us have experienced a breakup that left us a little shell shocked. Talk about it.

The bottom line is that fear of commitment doesn’t make some one impossible to date. It just means that the relationship will take more work, lot’s of trust, and honest communication. It’s not easy to be with someone who fears commitment and not take it personally, but if you’re willing to put your feelings aside and they’re willing to work on the issue, it is possible for your partner to overcome their fear.

Relationship Failure in 2021

There are as many reasons that relationships fail as there are failed relationships but some relationship issues don’t have to be fatal. If they can’t be avoided, (they’re already happening) they may simply need to be addressed so that behaviors can change.

Non-Acceptance

You meet someone and think, “He’s great, but…” We’ve all done it. We find someone that we like who has many qualities that we really dig but there are some things about them that are kind of a turn off. We weigh the good against the bad and decide if we want to go any further. Deciding to over look a partners personality traits or behaviors that we find annoying is fine as long as we commit to acceptance. The problem is that more often than not, we don’t. We go in to it thinking that we can change them. We believe that once they see how great life can be with us, they’ll change for us. In most cases, they won’t.

Over time we get frustrated with our partners and either demand that they change or use passive aggressive ploys to elicit a modification from them. We may even make insensitive comments about them or worse, point out their flaws to others in an attempt to shame them into complying with our will. These doesn’t work. They may even agree to make changes but, depending on the issue, the changes are unlikely to stick. They may grow to resent us for our overbearing behavior.

How do you avoid this pitfall? There are two ways. First, talk about these things before getting serious. Some things need to be ironed out ahead of time. For example; if your partner isn’t ambitious and works a low paying job that they love but you expect them to foot half the living expenses when they move in, you can’t just assume that they’ll leave their great job for a higher paycheck. Let’s say that you believe your partner spends too much time out with the boys. If you’ve accepted this behavior when you were dating, they are likely to expect you to accept it when things get more serious.

Second, simply accept your differences. You picked him and for better or worse, if you value him, you need to let him be himself, no matter how flawed you think they may be.

Lack of Trust

The only things as bad as wondering if your partner is unfaithful is being accused of being unfaithful when you’re not. If your trust issues are justified, forgive or run for the hills but if the lack is trust is manifesting without justification, you need to find out where your trust issues are coming from. We carry our baggage from one relationship to the next and it’s unfair to our partners. I was once told, “You carry the burden of proving that you’re better than every woman who came before you.” but that shouldn’t be the case.

If you find yourself cracking the lock code on his phone while he’s sleeping or sniffing his laundry for left over perfume when there have been no signs that he’s been cheating, you probably have trust issues that you need to address. If you don’t, they’ll cause you to do “Crazy Ex” things until he leaves you.

Differing Priorities

For some, a romantic relationship is the most important aspect of their lives. For others, it’s just a part of the equation and things like family, work, friends, or a hobby hold equal or greater value. If one partner expects to be the center of the universe while the other wants to spend a large part of their life apart from their partner, one will end up with hurt feelings while the other feels smothered.

Relationship building is like building a fire. If you just toss a bunch of logs on the fire without leaving room for air circulation, your fire won’t burn. If you’re relationship can’t breath, you also run the risk of losing the flame.

If there is trust in a relationship, there is no reason why partners can’t have aspects of their lives that they keep separate from the relationship.

Communication

I saved communication for last because it’s a pivotal part of the other three. Proper communication helps to avoid most pitfalls in relationships. If you communicate your expectations in the beginning, your partner can decide if they’re willing to change for you. If you communicate rather than being passive aggressive your partner is more likely to hear you. You can’t just assume that you hold a place of importance in someone’s life. You need to know where they see your relationship going. If you’re uncomfortable speaking honestly with your partner, you need t evaluate the situation and determine if it’s a problem on your end or not. If you are justifiably worried that communicating with your partner will make them angry, you may be dealing with a gas lighter or narcissist and it may be time to move on.

The Exes and Oh’s

You’re getting to know a guy and, naturally, you’re curious about his relationship history. When I was younger, I didn’t think this was very important. Call it naïve but I was one to take things at face value. I thought that knowing about his exes would just lead to me comparing myself to them or obsessing over how many sexual partners he had. Yes, I can be a bit possessive and jealous at times. It wasn’t until I acquired some experience with the opposite sex that I realized how many red flags can be uncovered simply by asking a person about their past relationships. Here are a few that stand out.

He has a grocery list of exes and never had a long term relationship

If you question this, he will probably say, “I just haven’t found the right one yet,” followed by a sheepish grin and a playful poke but is that really it? You would think that at least one would have stuck for a while, right?

The most common reason a person has a string of short term relationships is that they either fear or look unfavorably upon commitment. They like companionship and exclusive access to a lover, but they aren’t interested in investing in anyone for the long term. They are either secure enough to know that they can find someone new when the ether wears off and the relationship is no longer fun and easy or too insecure to invest themselves deeply enough to risk being hurt.

I know a man who told me that he has never loved any of his romantic partners. Not even the ones that he cohabitated with. He said that he dated people who were just easy to date and didn’t require a lot of effort on his part. That way, when it was time to walk away, he could just cut things off and move on with no regrets or second thoughts. He has never had a relationship last longer than seven months with the noted exception of his first relationship.

One day, I decided to ask him about his first love and his tone and demeanor instantly changed. It was easy to see that he had loved this girl completely. He put her on a pedestal and gave her everything he had to offer both emotionally and materially. What happened? She broke his heart and, subsequently changed his perspective on relationships. Now, I know, we’ve all had our share of heartbreak, but for him, this first experience tainted the way he looked at relationships for the next ten years of his life. He was not willing to endure that kind of pain again but he didn’t want to be lonely either. So, when he felt like he wanted someone in his life, he sought out what I call disposable partners. They never knew that he considered them disposable. They’d settle in together and he would watch for their flaws. Not because he wanted to have dialogue about them, but because he wanted to make a mental note of them so that when the flaws outweighed the fun, he could pack it in.

I imagine these women waking up in the morning to find that the man that they went to sleep with was just gone. He would block their numbers, block them on social media and just disappear. They would be left to wonder what went wrong and never get any closure.

You are probably thinking that this guy is a real ass and from a relationship perspective, you’d be right but what about these women? They would have been able to see his lack of dedication to their relationship if they’d only asked a few questions. They failed to protect themselves because they made assumptions instead of seeking truth.

Asking a man who fears commitment about the future can close him off fast. A man who dislikes commitment may gas light when confronted with questions like, “Where do you see this going?” or, “Do we have a future together?” You need to find the truth the way a detective elicits a confession.

First, listen to what he talks about and how he responds to you. A man who is only in this for now will not connect deeply with you. Your conversations will mostly be light hearted and casual. He won’t sit down to share his deepest secrets, fears, and longings. You’ll tell yourself that women are just more emotional than men or that he’s the strong silent type, but this lack of desire to connect with you is a giant red flag.

When you talk about your own fears, heartbreaks, and dreams, he may offer words of encouragement or empathy but how quickly does he try to redirect the conversation? How well does he retain what you’ve told him?

When he talks about his goals and future plans, do they ever include you? When you ask serious questions or try to make plans, do you get half-answers or no answer at all?

If you want to know how committed a man is, talk to him about summer plans in the dead of winter. If he breaks a sweat just thinking about it, you may have a problem.

All of his exes were crazy. (According to him)

Never trust a guy who calls all of his exes crazy. Crazy is just a catch-all phrase that guys use to discount women. Calling them crazy is just a way of writing off the relationship without taking any blame. Men like to label women as crazy when they react to things in ways that they don’t like. When a woman calls a man out for lying or flirting with other women, she’s possessive crazy. When she gets upset because he continually breaks commitments and cancels plans, she’s needy crazy. If he’s a big enough jerk, she’s labeled as all kinds of crazy and it’s very likely that every woman who he refers to as crazy is referring to him as a big loser.

When he tells you they’re crazy he is only giving you the convenient parts of the story. The parts where he is the victim. They call their exes crazy but never say what they did to bring out the crazy.

While he’s cutting them down, he’s telling you a lot about his character. If he can’t speak respectfully about the women who have been in his life, he isn’t a man who respects women and, one day, he’ll label you as crazy, too.

I was casually involved with a man who I’d known on a friendly basis for many years. Because we’d known each other for so long, we shared parts of our social circle. One day, one of his exes reached out to me and told me that I should be careful because while we were seeing each other, he was also trying to renew his relationship with her. After I read the message I asked him, “What would you do if you were casually seeing someone and their ex contacted you and told you that they were also seeing your partner?” He replied, “I’d consider the source. She’s probably crazy.” To which I replied, “You realize that by calling the ex “she” you just made yourself the person who is being accused when I asked you what you would do if your partners ex accused them, right?” He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. I didn’t need any more proof. The “crazy ex” was the one who was being truthful.

I’ve started talking to my ex again but she’s just a friend. I’d never want a relationship with her again

World population – 7,874,965,825

Percentage of the world population that is female – 49.6%

You may not want to hear this, but with that many people in the world, if he needs a friend and choses an ex, and she agrees to be his friend, they are going to sleep together.

Maybe you’re saying, “Oh, Tomi, you’re being insecure. They might not sleep together. It may just be that they have a bond and he trusts her.”

Okay, if you’re willing to date a man who seeks emotional connection from other women, go for it. If you aren’t troubled by the idea that he is so bonded to a former lover that he would turn to her to talk about, oh, I don’t know, you? Rock on with your bad self. I don’t want it!

Ask Google why men want to be friends with women after a break up and this is the most common answer:

The reasons why he wants to be friends after dumping you are to soften the blow of ending the relationship, finding comfort knowing you’re still in his life when he experiences uncomfortable feelings and to keep you as an option. In some situations, he wants to be friends after dumping you out of guilt.

Raise your hand if any of that sounds appealing to you.

He has a string of committed relationships and has never been ‘single’

He might be a serial monogamist. A serial monogamist feels most comfortable in committed relationships. They have a series of monogamous relationships and don’t take breaks between relationships to be single or to casually date.

You may think a serial monogamist is a good guy to have. After all, they like commitment which may seem refreshing in a world full of fuck boys but serial monogamists are no more ready to settle down with you than the fuck boys are. They offer you monogamy with a limited life expectancy and aren’t likely to make good partners.

What are the red flags of the serial monogamist?

They’ve never been married or engaged but have a history of long term relationships that went nowhere. They lack independence often living with their family or several roommates. They show no interest in meeting your family even though you spend all of your time together. They have no interest at all in your romantic past. This is because they’re on a superficial ride and are only concerned about right now. All of their goals are career oriented. They never talk about future plans as it relates to marriage, children, or their personal interests. They don’t care about your personal opinions. Your religion, politics, family values…none of these things interest them. They get caught up in the moment. They are spontaneous, passionate, and intense but if that intensity fades, they will tire of you and move on.

If you like this red flag revelation, tune in tomorrow for part three!

Tomi